Amy McDonagh is a carpenter’s apprentice and will be sailing with Niagara in the summer 2017 season.
How did you find Niagara?
I did a sailing program a few years ago with SEA (that’s the Sea Education Association) and that’s when I fell in love with sailing. A few years passed, and I figured that since I lived in Cleveland, so close to the Great Lakes, there must be some opportunity to sail in the area. I started researching, found Niagara, and figured “I might as well give this a shot.” And then I did, and it changed my life.
You’ve been with the ship for eight months. What’s that like?
I did my first voyage in May, with the history program, and loved it so much that I started volunteering as soon as the program ended. I sailed on and off all summer, and then at the end of the season I volunteered for downrig, and then for shipyard in Cleveland, which was a wicked awesome opportunity to get to know the ship out of water and have a glimpse of the amount of work it takes to build and maintain a wooden tall ship. I’ve been working winter maintenance back in Erie as a carpenter’s apprentice ever since.
Thoughts on Luke Skywalker? (This is an ongoing debate, fraught with emotion, for many crewmembers. Mostly Amy.)
Luke Skywalker is one of the best characters in the entire Star Wars galaxy. He has big dreams—he wants to get away from his homeworld planet, and find a meaningful life—but he thinks his dreams are out of reach. He’s already faced the uncertainty of not knowing his parents, and then has to face the loss of his aunt and uncle, the only family he’s ever known. He makes the radical decision to leave his life behind to fight for the good of the galaxy. Even though he’s constantly faced with loss and pain, he always works to be good and kind, and tries to see the light in others. He sees the best in others , even in his father Darth Vader (spoilers!) and faces down the darkness in himself.
(At this point Amy began singing Luke’s theme and quoting select lines from The Empire Strikes Back. She then began gesturing wildly and talking too fast for me to transcribe. Let’s just say this is an issue she feels strongly about.)